This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
Reading have had a rather inconsistent first-half of the season and will be hoping for some improvement, starting with Saturday’s fixture against Derby.
The Rams travel to the Madejski Stadium having won just once away from home all season, and that was on the opening day of the campaign. This is a perfect opportunity for Reading to begin climbing up table, especially having won just once in their last six matches.
One player who is going to be crucial come Saturday afternoon is forward Sam Baldock. The striker has been important for Reading when he’s played and now he’s back from injury, he’ll be hoping to be back amongst the goals on the weekend.
What he has that other players in this Royals side don’t is a bit of drive. He’s able to push back the last defender and be the man to constantly put them under pressure. His energy and ability to run will be crucial in Reading getting a result on Saturday.
He was frozen out of the side at the start of the season due to not being Jose Gomes’ specific preference and failed to make the match day squad on several occasions. Before his injury, he was slowly forming a good partnership with the now injured George Puscas having been reintroduced to the starting XI by Mark Bowen.
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Now, Baldock is back and he’ll be hoping to hit it off with Lucas Joao like he did with Puscas and start firing some goals that can push Reading up the Championship table.
Derby are vulnerable away from home, and that is why Baldock’s aggressive pressure could well have a big impact on the outcome of the game at the Madejski Stadium. He has to start pressurising early on in the fixture, and that can lead to chances being created for the side due to Derby slip-ups.
It’s set to be a really intriguing game on Saturday, with both sides knowing how crucial a win could be for not just their Christmas period, but for their whole season.